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Using Google as a quick spell checker

January 22nd, 2006 by Jim

I consider myself a good speller, but from time to time I need to quickly find out if my spelling of a particular word is correct. This happens very frequently while working on a customer’s website, hacking out a new web app for my company, and even while writing for this blog.

Google steps in…

You might be wondering why I would waste Google’s bandwidth to look up words, or even why I would waste my own time with the hassle of opening a web browser. The truth is Google can offer me the fastest word lookup for my (possibly specific) situation. All of my use cases listed above involve a web browser, which is already open and ready for my input. And Google is so fast it does not seem to matter how you use it, or how frequently. Besides, I would be very surprised if any of you even try this trick. 😀

A more typical scenario, for the more typical user

You are typing a message in a forum, and your message reads: “But I already submitted a cancelation request!” While previewing your message, you wonder if the word “cancelation” is spelled with one or two L’s. You certainly don’t want to sound uneducated while fighting the man, do you? 🙄

Note: These steps assume you are using Firefox, and have Google set as the default search engine. Also note that these steps are designed to keep your hands on the keyboard. If you reach for the mouse, you are slowing down the procedure! Emacs, anyone? 😉

  1. Copy the word in question to the clipboard. Shift+Arrow Keys will start a selection. Ctrl+C will copy the selection to the clipboard.
  2. Press Ctrl+T to open a new tab.
  3. Press Ctrl+K to move the keyboard input to the Firefox Web Search box, which is located to the right of the Go button.
  4. Press Ctrl+V to paste the word into the Web Search box. Press enter.
  5. Google’s opinion of the word will be shown:
    • If the word is hyperlinked to answers.com (top-right corner, where Google says “Results 1 – N), then it is spelled correctly.
    • If a new word is suggested, under the Google search box, then it is probably misspelled and the suggested word is probably what you really meant. Copy the corrected spelling to the clipboard.
  6. Press Ctrl+W to close the tab. Paste the word, if necessary, and continue about your business.

I understand this looks like a lengthy operation, but with some practice, you can be back in the forum with the correct spelling in under 5 seconds. Opening a dictionary program, or even navigating to a dictionary website, would take much longer.

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Revision History

2006.02.10 Fixed the hidden misspellings. ;)
2006.01.22 Initial revision.

3 Responses to “Using Google as a quick spell checker”

  1. Matt Says:

    You should have used this method to check “scenerio.”

  2. Jim Says:

    Good job, Matt! You are the first to notice. 😉

    When I wrote this, I knew it should be thoroughly spell checked, but when saw I had misspelled three words (bandwidth, scenario, and misspellings), I thought it would be fun to see if anyone would find them. 😀 Thanks for the feedback. I have fixed them now.

  3. Adam Says:

    “Besides, I would be very surprised if any of you even try this trick.”

    Believe it or not, I have been using this for quite a while :D. This is in addition to FF’s own spell checker, and I find this method a great time saver as well.